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'I couldn't believe how easy it was to get the shows'

Peter, not his real name, is a media professional from Munster whose obsession with downloading movies and TV shows started two years ago.

"It was The Wire that got me into all this," he says. "I'd heard from so many people about how good it was, but I never seemed to be home when it was broadcast and I didn't have Sky+.

"I didn't want to shell out the best part of €100 so I went online to see if I could download some episodes. I couldn't believe how easy it was to get all five series.

"I've used BitTorrent (the hugely popular file-sharing website ) but I stopped because of the viruses -- which is a real risk when you're downloading illegally. What I do now is sign up to Rapidshare (another file-hosting website) -- I pay about €30 every three months -- and can download what I want. And I tend not to have to worry about viruses."

Peter estimates that he has downloaded 400 films and TV dramas over the past two years. "The quality varies. Some of it is of HD standard. Others, much worse. But all of it is of watchable quality. I watch the downloads on a normal 32-in TV, via a USB-key in my PlayStation 3 player."

He says he has no qualms about the illegal downloads. "I wouldn't rip an album from an Irish band -- I bought the Villagers album recently -- but I have no problem whatsoever taking a classic movie that you'd see on TV all the time or something like Boardwalk Empire, which is over-rated, if you ask me."

His wife used to be appalled by his actions, but has come around to the piracy. "She had a problem with it until I presented her with the first two series of True Blood. Then she changed her tune."

Irish Independent